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Micro Machines is a video game based off the Hasbro toy line of the same name. When growing up I never owned any of the Micro Machine miniature vehicles (I was more of a Transformers man myself) but I imagine the toys must have been popular with youngsters back in the day. The diminutive size of the cars do after all make them ideal for sneaking into places where toys are banned.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL RACER
I must confess that when it comes racing games I am not a huge fan of the genre, specifically the realistic ones. Driving simulators can be a bit tedious as you are forced to adjust your speed when taking corners and you need to follow a strict racing line in order to clock up the fastest lap time possible. When it comes to racers I am in the camp (or should that be garage) of drivers who want something less serious and more arcadey. That is probably why I am such a big fan of the Mario Kart series which offers cartoony graphics, power ups and all manner of wacky courses.
Before I experienced Mario Kart I turned to Micro Machines on the Megadrive for my racing needs. Aside from Sega's sixteen bit machine, the game has appeared on numerous other systems including home computers like the Amiga and consoles such as the NES. What distinguishes it from other racers is that you drive around in tiny toys as opposed to regular cars. This allows the player to experience thrilling contests on courses constructed from mundane household objects. Thumbs up to Codemasters for designing tracks that have you speeding along kitchen tables, in the bath, on school desks and all over the garden.
VEHICLES AND TRACKS
When driving about you don't just have to keep an eye out for your opponents, but also the various obstacles dotted around the track. Drive over a marmalade stain and you will get stuck. Go over a deep puddle and your car will sink down into the depths, forcing you to respawn further down the track which costs you valuable time. Other dangers include fans that can push you off course and oil slicks that make you skid. One thing I really hated were the tracks that had rulers acting as a make shift bridges. You would use these to go over a gaps, but when rushing along at top speed it was easy to miss them and plummet to your doom.
The game features various vehicles which all handle differently. The F1 cars for example are super fast and have excellent grip, but take a while to turn. To succeed with them you'll have to memorise the track in order to swerve early at corners to avoid crashing. Sport cars are fast too, but they lack the traction of their F1 counterparts so they skid all over the place. Aside from the different cars you get to use boats in the bathtub levels, helicopters and even tanks. The tanks are plagued with a horribly slow top speed and poor handling, but they are still fun to drive as they come with a cannon you can use to blast fellow racers.
ONE PLAYER MODE
In terms of gameplay the one player mode has you racing against three A.I controlled characters. The aim of the game is to finish first or second so you can proceed to the next race. If you end up in third or fourth place you lose a life and repeat the track (providing that you have any lives remaining.) After a few races one of your opponents will get knocked out of the competition and replaced with a new character. The game continues until you get down to the last three opponents and win the final race.
My advice to new players would be to challenge the stronger characters as soon as possible so they get eliminated during the early races on the tracks you are more familiar with. That way when you get to the latter stages, which have more complex courses, you at least stand a chance as you will be pitted against the weaker guys. It's also advisable that you master the bonus tracks which have you driving a monster truck. If you can complete these within the strict time limit you'll earn an extra life.
The two player mode is what kept me coming back to Micro Machines, but I must warn you that it is a little hit and miss. If you play against someone who is much worse or much better than you it gets boring. Find an evenly matched competitor however and you will be hooked. I had the good fortune of having a friend who was familiar with the game, as he owned it on the Amiga, and the matches we would end up having were epic.
Unlike other racing games the two player mode isn't a straight forward race to see who can complete the three laps first. The aim is to race ahead of your opponent so you touch the top of the screen. Doing so awards you a point (represented by a row of lights.) If you can change all the lights to your colour you win. Otherwise you race on until the end of the race where the person with the most points is declared the winner. Sounds weird I know, but it works. Once you get the hang of it you will be racing like a mad man, cutting corners and shoving your opponent out of the way with the aims of scoring the most points.
Micro Machines is one of my favourite Megadrive games of all time, so it's something I feel an old school gaming fan should check out. I have played some of the sequels that appeared on other consoles and for some reason I find that they lack the charm of the original. I like how the aerial view of the action gives you a good perspective of the track. It's a refreshing change of pace from most modern day racers which use a third person view or vantage point from behind the wheel. You may be too old to play with the Micro Machine toys, but don't fret. The Micro Machines video game is much more fun to play with and is something that "big kids" of all ages can enjoy.
** Micro Machines - Megadrive **
First of all Dooyoo have this game listed in the Amiga Games catagory, as they do all of the Mega Drive games, so it isn't in the wrong place, it is just where Dooyoo keep their Mega Drive Games!
Micro Machines is a car racing game released on the Sega Mega Drive back in the early 1990's. The game came as all Mega Drive games did in a box between Video and DVD size. The box contained an instruction manual and a 16 bit cartridge specifically for the Mega Drive.
Unlike other car racing games which are set on race tracks out in the open or racing around the streets of a city Micro Machines is set within the home and all of the race tracks are based around different areas of the home and garden.
Once the cartridge is insterted in the Mega Drive and you have waited a couple of minutes for the usual designers logos to flash up the game is very simple to set up, first you will need to select if you want single or multiplayer racing, and which driver you want to race as. You can choose from numerous drivers and their driving skills range from excellent to really poor.
The game starts off with a race in a bubbly bath tub, this is your qualifying round, you need to finish in the top 3 to be able to continue. You are racing in tiny speed boats and the track is a simple loop track with just a few corners. All of the races in this game are played from a camera angle looking from above directly down on to the course.
After qualifying in this round you will then need to choose the drivers with whom you wish to race. In each race there are 4 drivers including yourself. When I first started playing Micro Machines I made the mistake of choosing all the worst drivers to race against thinking this would make my life easier, however as you progress through the game each driver only has so many lives to loose by coming 4th in a race and they get knocked out of the tournament meaning you need to replace them, so I find it is better to race against the best drivers on the easier tracks at the start of the game and save the worst drivers for the harder tracks.
Once you have selected your opponents you are ready to race. The races will take place in various rooms and areas around the house and garden. The starting race is set in the dinning room on the breakfast table. The track itself is marked out by little cereal 'o' shapes, during the race you will have to race around fruit, over waffles and ceral boxes as well as avoiding the random patches of spilt baked beans which will slow your car down.
As the game progresses you will be racing sports cars around desktops where you will be bouncing over rulers and skidding around pens and pencils. In the garden you will fly a helicopter around a track that is laid out by potted plants. You will take a trip into the garage where you will race a mean looking car with spikes on the front, in the garage you must avoid glue spots and nuts and bolts that have been left lying around, if you feel confident that you can keep control of your car then you can take advantage of the oil spills and use them to gain a bit of speed. In the races that are based in a sand pit you will be racing a sand buggy and must be wary of water hazzards and race across little bridges that are only wide enough for one car at a time so it is a bit of a challenge to bash into your oponents and knock them into the water while you go across the bridge, just becareful they dont do it back to you!
One of my favourite tracks in the game is set on a pool/snooker table, in this race you are in a Formula 1 car and you get the full works, you must avoid snooker balls that lie half across the track and not drive too far off the track as you dont want to miss the playing card ramp that takes you up onto the edge of the table for a race around the edge before dropping into one of the pockets to race out of sight and pop out of another pocket further down the table and finally back down a playing card to avoid more snooker balls and cues. I really enjoy this one as it is fast and fun and of course has the risk, like many of the races do, of dropping off the table if you aren't careful!
I remember being about 10 the first time I played Micro Machines and after the qualifying race and the breakfast table race I was totally hooked and couldnt put it down. The races are fun and addictive and their unique settings made this game much more appealing than other racing games available at the time.
The multiplayer mode in Micro Machines isnt brilliant. There is a race option where you will race against each other and 2 computer controlled players on a split screen, I'm personally not that keen on this option because unless you know the tracks well it is hard to see what is coming next and keep control of your car, especially on the faster paced races.
The other multiplayer option is Head to Head mode. In head to head there will be just the two of you and you will race around the tracks on a normal screen, not split, each time one racer drives far enough ahead to knock the other player off the bottom of the screen then they will win a point. The points are measured on the side of the screen and the winner is the first player to fill the bar up with their colour. I dont really like this mode as it is too much stopping and starting for my liking and not really a race at all.
** Controls **
The controls in the game are easy, you simply press a button to accelerate and then the D pad to control the direction of your vehicle. At first I found that controlling the direction wasnt so easy as you have to get use to the view from above but the controls of the vehicle are as if you are in the car so pressing the direction as you see it isnt always the way it works, but after a couple of races it does become second nature.
** Graphics and Sound **
The graphics in the game are good . All of the races are colourful and run very smoothly. The music in the game is ok, this is another of the games where personally I can only put up with the music for so long before it has to be muted and my music put on instead!
** Price and Availability **
To get a copy of Micro Machines you are probably looking at the more specialist games shops or of course you will always find a copy of it, often bundled with the other Micro Machines games in the series reasonably cheap on eBay.
** My Experience and Opinion **
I love this game, I have played it since I was about 10, and now a scary 19 years on I can say that I still enjoy putting it on and having a race around the breakfast table, pool table and bashing the other drivers into the water in the sand pit! It is a great game for all ages, simple good fun and quite addictive so it will keep you amused for years to come.
Thanks for reading :)